It’s officially cold and flu season. Don’t know where you are reading this, but in our area temperatures had dropped about thirty degrees on average. And that means, sniffles are coming. In fact, my daughter had already made it through her season change cold, and I am battling one right now.
The upside of every cold is — you get to consume vast quantities of chicken soup. No, I am not talking about that muddled thing you extract from the tin can whose thickness and richness are achieved by adding copious amounts of corn starch and delicious emulsifiers. I am talking about rich golden gelatinous and perfectly beautiful thing you make at home. Once you make it properly, you will never dare to get yourself campbellized again.
But, alas, the fickle human nature grows weary even of beautiful things if they are used too often. So this is how you help the boredom — you add things to the chicken stock which make it more exciting to eat. There are many ways of doing that, one of which, of course, is adding noodles. But you didn’t really expect me to post about chicken noodle soup, did you? Today, I will show you another cool way to add interest to your nutritious broth — Mandlech.
Mandlech are fried dumplings, a staple of traditional Jewish cookery. Yes, can you believe it? I am talking “fried”. They are fried in hot oil or chicken fat (which is even better, trust me), only for a few seconds and instantly make your bowl of chicken soup exciting. They crackle merrily in your bowl and in your mouth, and in spite of being made of the simplest of ingredients, they are very tasty. The biggest secret is to add Mandlech to the soup bowl only a few pieces at a time, to keep them from turning soggy. Making Mandlech is so easy, you’ll slap yourself for not inventing them. Also, they are a breeze to scale for any number of servings because of the easy 1:1:1 ratio of the main components. The rest is just mix, chop and fry.
The size of the dumplings is a very arbitrary thing. My mom likes them on a smaller side, my grandpa, who was a chicken soup worshiper, made them so big that they looked like logs floating in the soup. All the same — they tasted great.
Mandlech — Jewish Fried Dumplings
1 egg recipe below makes enough for 3 generous bowls of chicken soup
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tbsp vinegar
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- all-purpose flour in quantities sufficient to make soft non-sticky dough
- oil or rendered chicken fat (or a combination of both) for frying — about 1 cup or even less, which can be strained and reused again later
- In a bowl whisk lightly egg(s), water and oil
- Put 1/4 tsp baking soda in a tablespoon, pour vinegar over to generate foam. Pour the foam into the bowl
- Add salt and flour. I intentionally didn’t specify the flour quantity because you want to add it in small batches until soft dough forms which no longer sticks to your hands. The final quantity will greatly depend on the size and number of the eggs, so you be the judge.
- On a lightly floured surface, divide your dough into small portions, about the size of a Roma tomato
- Roll each portion of the dough into a stick about 3/4″ thick. Take care to roll it tightly to prevent cracks and tears.
- WIth a sharp knife, chop the dough stick into dumplings, about 1/2 to 3/4″ thick.
- Heat oil or chicken fat (or both) in a small saucepan. There should be enough oil in a pan to cover one layer of dumplings, no more is needed really.
- Drop dumplings about 20 pieces at a time into hot oil, swirl them around with a spoon to prevent sticking to each other. Swirl again in a few seconds to fry evenly on all sides. Dumplings are ready when they are at least golden on all sides. If you like them crunchier, fry a bit longer, but don’t brown them too much.
- Remove fried dumplings from oil with a slotted spoon.
- Enjoy your dumplings, a few pieces at a time to prevent soggy mess, in a bowl of golden chicken stock